Oil prices face pressure as global economy slows – Reuters poll



By Eileen Soreng and Diptendu Lahiri

(Reuters) – Oil prices are likely to be pressured this year and next as low demand from a slowing global economy and a surge in U.S. shale output offset support from OPEC production cuts and Middle East supply risks, a Reuters survey shows.

The poll of 51 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude () would average $64.16 a barrel in 2019 and $62.38 next year. This is compared to the previous month’s $65.19 projection for 2019 and $63.56 for 2020, and an average oil price so far this year of $64.23.

The 2019 outlook for West Texas Intermediate crude futures () was slightly reduced to $57.18 per barrel from last month’s $57.96 forecast, while the 2020 projection was at $56.98 against $58.02 in September. WTI has averaged $56.78 this year.

“It continues to be a battle between supply fears and demand fears,” said Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist at Hamburg Commercial Bank AG.

“At the moment, fears from the demand side dominate the scene, notwithstanding the troublesome attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and attacks on oil tankers.”

Brent posted its biggest one-day jump in 30 years on Sept. 16 after an attack on Saudi oil facilities, but has since retreated more than 15%.

“The risk premium of prices has increased. (However) this has been somewhat concealed by the increasing fear that the world economy may cool more significantly than previously expected,” Rubia added.

The International Monetary Fund warned the U.S.-China trade dispute will cut 2019 global growth to its slowest pace since the 2008 financial crisis.

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Analysts expect growth in global oil demand to range between 1 million and 1.3 million barrels per day in 2019 and 0.5-1.4 mbpd next year.

“This (trade war) is a major drag on prices; without this factor, prices would be $5-$10 higher,” Commerzbank (DE:) analyst Carsten Fritsch said.

An interim trade agreement between the United States and China might not be completed in time for signing next month as expected but that does not mean the accord is falling apart, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, rising supply from the United States, Brazil and Norway could reduce demand for OPEC crude to 29 mbpd in 2020, the International Energy Agency said.

Since January, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies have been cutting output by 1.2 mbpd, and had agreed to do so until March 2020.

“U.S. shale will continue to grow in the high-single digits next year and we should see U.S. production be the main reason oil gains will be capped on any major rebound with global growth,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

U.S. production is projected to hit a record 12.26 mbpd in 2019.

On the flip side, some analysts said crude demand could get a boost over the next few months as some shippers switch to cleaner marine fuels to comply with new rules from the International Maritime Organization.

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